Dehydration is more common than you might think. It's hard to know how much you should be drinking. For decades, people were told to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. That is just under two liters.
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine states that men should drink around 3.7 liters of water per day and women should drink around 2.7 liters. More may be required if you've been sweating profusely with a fever or heavy activity. As this information hit the media, it led to confusion. Some people don't know how much they should drink.
Ideally, you want to have almost clear or pale yellow urine. If your urine is a darker yellow, you're not drinking enough. If you feel thirsty, you're not drinking enough. Those are easy-to-follow rules for hydration. But, what about your dad? How can you tell if he's drinking enough?
Signs of Dehydration in the Elderly
Water is important as it helps your organs function properly. It helps regulate your body temperature. It also helps lubricate the joins and help with tissue and cell health. If your dad isn't hydrated, these are some of the signs you may see.
- Dark yellow urine
- Dry mouth
- Fast heart rate
- Infrequent urination
- Muscle cramps and/or weakness
Check hydration levels by pinching the skin on the back of your dad's hand. If it quickly returns to its normal position, he's fine. If it stays elevated for a second or longer, he may be dehydrated. If you suspect he is, call his doctor. It may be advised that you bring him to the hospital for IV fluids.
Ways to Make Sure He Stays Hydrated
To ensure your dad is hydrated, have him drink a glass of water when he gets up. Serve him coffee, tea, or juice with his breakfast. Continue that routine during the day. Between meals, he should have another glass of water. With a meal, he should have a glass of milk, water, seltzer, or herbal tea.
Offer him snacks that contain a lot of water. Cucumber slices, cubes of melon, celery sticks, citrus fruit, grapes, and tomatoes all have high water content. When you shop for groceries or help your dad create a shopping list, add frozen fruit to the list. Use that as ice cubes to flavor water and increase his antioxidant intake.
Hire caregivers to help him around his home. Senior care aides can keep your dad company while monitoring his snacks, meals, and beverages. If he's not drinking enough, his senior care aide can make sure he stops and sips a glass of water.